Name ID 725
Ondaatje, Christopher Kilimanjaro: Genius in an African dawn
Page Number: c
Extract Date: 1953
Hemingway planned to return to Africa the very next year, but in fact his plans were stalled for 20 years. Once again he landed in Mombasa in the autumn, though this time with a different wife in tow, and once again he was to be led by Percival, now in his late sixties, who came out of retirement out of loyalty to his old client.
Hemingway was fortunate to survive his second trip to Africa. As a late Christmas present, he had arranged for a pilot, Roy Marsh, to take himself and his wife Mary on a sightseeing journey over Africa in Marsh's Cessna. All went well, until they reached Murchison Falls in Uganda. As Mary photographed the falls, Marsh suddenly swerved to avoid a flight of ibis and ripped into an abandoned telegraph wire which sliced off the rudder and radio antenna. The plane crashed in the bush about three miles from the Falls, but incredibly, all three emerged relatively unscathed. Next day a boat took them safely to Butiaba.
After such a lucky escape, no one could have expected lightning to strike twice, but almost as soon as Reggie Cartwright's 12-seater de Havilland took off from the short, ragged landing strip, it crashed and burst into flames. Mary, Marsh and Cartwright managed to squeeze out through a window, but Hemingway, too bulky to get through, was forced to bash the stuck door open using his head – his arms still bruised from the previous day's crash – exacerbating his wounds with every battering attempt to save his life.
Blessed with the constitution of an ox, Hemingway was used to bouncing back from the blows his active life dealt him, but recovery was slow and some biographers have seen the African crashes as marking the beginning of his physical and psychological decline.
Palin, Michael Hemingway Adventure
Extract Author: Michael Palin
Extract Date: 1999 October 30
writing in the Radio Times 30 Oct 1999 about his Hemingway Adventure program
0n 21 January 1954, the Hemingways, with a bush pilot by the name of Roy Marsh, took off from Nairobi to see the Belgian Congo. Hemingway called it his Christmas present to Mary.
After flying due north to look down on friends in the rich farming belt of the Kenya Highlands they turned south, inspecting the lakes and volcanoes of the Great Rift Valley, the 12-mile- wide Ngorongoro Crater and the game-filled Serengeti Plains. After a refuelling stop at Mwanza, they headed west, out over Lake Victoria and the desolate northern quarter of Rwanda, and by the end of the first day they reached the Belgian Congo, putting down for the night at the town of Costermansville, now Bukavu.
The next day they flew north over the Rwenzori mountains, a spectacular snow-capped range in the very centre of Africa, known to early explorers as the Mountains of the Moon, and from there to Entebbe in Uganda. Hemingway, in his article, The Christmas Gift, for Look magazine, extravagantly praised the comforts of Entebbe's Lake Victoria Hotel, adding pointedly that he hoped, 'Miss Mary was beginning to lose the claustrophobia she had experienced while being confined to the Masai Reserve and the slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro.'
But Miss Mary's claustrophobia was far from being cured and once the mist cleared next morning they were in the air again, heading over George and Albert, the lakes of the Western Rift Valley, and on to the Murchison Falls on the river Nile. Diving down to what Hemingway later described as 'a reasonably legal height', they had a good look at this spectacular torrent of white water, and were heading back to Entebbe when their plane and propeller clipped a telegraph wire and the plane hurtled down into low scrub beside the crocodile-infested waters of the Nile. This was only the start of the nightmare.